Fitness the winner for Awford

Andy Awford revealed his delight at Pompey’s fitness as he hailed their pre-season opener a success.

The Blues boss had pinpointed the importance of his players’ condition rather than the result in the build up to Saturday’s Hawks fixture.

Ricky Holmes netted during his 30 minutes of action. Picture: Mick Young

Ricky Holmes netted during his 30 minutes of action. Picture: Mick Young

As it was, second-half goals from Craig Westcarr (two), Ryan Bird and Ricky Holmes secured a 4-0 Westleigh Park victory.

A total of 26 players were used, although notably David Connolly didn’t even make the match-day squad despite being available.

And Awford was highly satisfied with how the occasion panned out.

He said: ‘I’m pleased. It was the ideal preparation.

‘It was just about fitness. The result was immaterial.

‘We wanted to win, of course we did, like we do every game.

‘But it was more important to get the mileage in the legs and get some little patterns of play going and structure to the game which I thought was there.

‘The later the game goes against non-league opposition the fitness levels show, of course they do.

‘We are in full-time and as good as the job Lee Bradbury is doing with his fitness guys getting them as fit as they can you will always see that little bit of a gulf.

‘We have been back for two-and-a-bit weeks and I think that was a little bit evident at the end.

‘But I still think Havant will have a fantastic season and can go on and do really well this year.

‘I wish them all the best and anything we can do to help them we will.

‘It took a bit of planning on Friday but it was always the aim to play some of our lads for 30 minutes and some for 45 minutes.

‘It will be the same next week at Bognor, then we will start to increase the capacity of minutes at Thurrock and Ebbsfleet.

‘I thought the first half we played some really good stuff as well without getting the goals.

‘We got into dangerous areas but didn’t quite get the goals – in the second half we managed to get the goals.

‘Craig (Westcarr) came to life in the box and got his two goals, so it was a good start for him on his debut, but it was about the whole squad.

‘I’m not just going to pinpoint any individuals.

‘I am pleased overall and everybody has played their part, with 26 players used – and that is a good thing.’

Official attendance figures have still to be released by the Hawks but it was estimated 2,500 were present.

They saw a Pompey side missing Wes Fogden and Tom Craddock through injury but Awford believes no more knocks were collected.

He added: ‘It doesn’t appear anyone has picked anything up so we are pleased.

‘Ricky (Holmes) has got a bit of sciatica in his back but was able to play – that is why he had 30 minutes.

‘We will get him sorted out and back training today.

‘If there was any little risk nobody would have played.

‘There is no point playing players if they had anything wrong with them and Ricky was passed fit to play.’